Mike Leigh Collection: Volume One
"Abigail's Party" features Beverly (Alison Steadman) a bitingly funny hostess of a dainty evening party at which her husband has the ultimate bad taste of having a heart attack on her new living room carpet. Unable to decide which is more important, her dying husband or her new, very expensive carpet, she must come to terms with where her true priorities lay.
One of Mike Leigh's greatest works, "Abigail's Party" reaches a moment when the unbearable and the hopeless fuse to create an explosion of incredible humor and tremendous insight into the state of human affairs.
Mrs. Thornley works very hard without notice or appreciation. Every day she keeps her own house clean, attends to her husband and unmarried daughter, Ann, the cleans other women's houses. She looks tired and has little accent. Mrs. Thornley's husband works nights, except for Saturdays, when he expects conjugal attention. Ann's worried about pregnancy and talks to her mum about labor and childbirth.
Emotionally horrific yet oddly amusing, "Hard Labour" is a scathing indictment of classism and sexism made all the more powerful by a surprising appearance by Ben Kingsley as a friendly cab driver.
Dick and Mandy, a young working class couple, move into a council house in Canterbury, and find Mr. Butcher, one of their former teachers, living next door. Mandy's unmarried sister, Gloria, is constantly dropping in, and will not take any hints that the couple would prefer to be left alone, until her presence finally goads them to action.
The entire film comes to a head when both couples are found wrestling in the hall while trying to oust the poor sister from the Mr. Butcher's bathroom.